Basic Tamales

Basic Tamales
Delicious meal with an impressive presentation
Prep Time: 120 min
Cook Time: 120 min
Total Time: 240 min
Category: Mains
2 packages of Tio Pablo dried corn husks (24 each pack)
4 jalapeño or serrano chiles, stemmed, unseeded and minced (jarred okay)
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 white onion, minced
1 small bunch, chopped fresh coriander stems and leaves
1 Tb. dried Epazote (optional)
1 tsp. coarse, black pepper
2 tsp. salt
4 cups Tasty or Edam cheese, grated
1 cup solid vegetable shortening, lard or butter
1 Tbs. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
3 1/2 cups Tío Pablo masa harina instant mix for tamales with 2 1/4 cups warm water or more as needed
2 Tbs. dried Mexican oregano (may use regular oregano)
1 Tbs. dried thyme
Zest of 1 limes


To Prepare Corn Husks: Place husks in large stockpot, and cover with hot water. Weight down with plate to keep husks submerged, and let soften for 2 hours or as long as one day. Select 24 of largest husks at least 6 inches wide. If needed, select smaller ones, and overlap to make wide surfaces for spreading masa; stick together with daub of masa. Tear smallest husks into 1/4-inch-wide x 8-inch-long strips to tie packets together (you may also use cooking twine for tying). To Prepare Filling: Combine filling ingredients, and mix well. Set aside. To Make Masa for Tamales:
Beat shortening, salt and baking powder with heavy-duty mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn mixer to low, and add masa a little at a time. Turn speed to high, and beat 3 minutes more, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl.
Turn mixer off, and add herbs, zest and 1 1/4 cups water. Turn speed to low, and slowly mix ingredients. Increase speed, and beat masa mixture at least 3 minutes more. Turn mixer off, and add remaining 1 cup water. Slowly increase mixer speed, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl, and beat 3 minutes, adding more water as needed, until mixture is soft and resembles thick pancake batter.
To assemble tamales, arrange corn husks, corn husk ties, filling and masa in easy reach. Place soft, wet corn husk on work surface. Spoon and spread about 1/3 cup masa on husk, leaving 2-inch border all around. Place scant 1/4 cup filling in center of masa. Fold one long side of husk over filling, and roll to enclose masa. To prevent leaking, roll tamale with second husk if masa is not fully enclosed. Fold wider end under, and tie closed with strip of husk. Prepare remaining tamales.
Stand tamales in steamer. Do not crowd because tamales need room to expand as they steam.
Cover steamer tightly, and, over high heat, bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and steam for 1 1/4 hours. Uncover after 45 minutes, and add more boiling water if needed.
After 1 1/4 hours, remove one tamale, and check for doneness. Masa should pull away from husk easily. If done, remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes to firm. Open, peel tamales and discard husks. For maximum flavor, cool tamales, and reheat before serving.
Makes about 24 tamales